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120 Tube stations to get Wi-Fi by 2012

Company to install network to be chosen by end of the year

More than 100 underground stations could have Wi-Fi access in time for the Olympics, says London Underground (LU).

Following a "successful" trial at Charing Cross, Transport for London (TfL) revealed it is encouraging companies to bid to install a Wi-Fi network provision covering 120 stations by June 2012. TfL said it would select the successful company by the end of this year.

The Charing Cross trial, which began in November and was conducted in conjunction with BT Openzone, offered a Wi-Fi provision in the ticket hall and platforms at the underground station as part of a new trial.

According to TfL, over half of LU passengers surveyed revealed Wi-Fi access would improve their experience of using the Tube, while many people questioned admitted they wanted the service rolled out to more stations and that Wi-Fi connections at a Tube station are "very useful".

To begin with the Wi-Fi network currently used by TfL staff will be made available to 16 stations and then expand the network to other stations. However, TfL warned the Wi-Fi network would only be available in stations, and would not be extended to the trains.

"The roll out of Wi-Fi technology across the platforms and public areas of our Tube stations will finally allow Londoners to use mobile devices to pick up their emails, access social media sites and stay in touch with the world above while they traverse our subterranean transport network," said the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

"We are inviting companies to bid to do this before next June, which would mean that even Londoners going underground will be able to keep up to date with the British medal tally at the 2012 Games."

TfL also confirmed it's still in discussions with the Mayor of London, mobile phone operators and other suppliers about offering mobile phone services on the Tube. However, TfL wants mobile networks to foot the bill.

However, Will Geddes founder of ICP Group – an organisation that aims to reduce terror-related threats, told the BBC "there are lots of implications in terms of terrorism and security".

"This will enable people to use their laptop on the Tube as if it was a mobile phone," he said.

A TfL spokesman said: "Access to mobile and data networks is already common on many world metros and our customers tell us they would welcome this"

See also: Huawei to bring mobile network to London Tube?


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